Join me in welcoming Gloryanna Boge to the blog today. She has such a heart for our marriages, and she's wild about the church... just like me. We're friends online, but when we do get a chance to meet in person someday, I have a big hug for her.
I remember grabbing my purple denim jeans and the white shirt with The Lion King’s Nola smiling coyly at Simba on the front. My favorite outfit. I was pretty good at getting dressed without Mom’s help those days; a mark of a young girl finding her independence.
It was still dark outside, but I knew it was time to get up. Even then, my internal clock woke me up to start the day before everyone else. This particular morning, the smell of sweet syrup wafted into my bedroom. Mom was making pancakes. Having that kind of breakfast before school was unusual.
Mom stood over the stove with a spatula in hand, wearing one of her flowery nightgowns. She looked like an art canvas had draped her body, hanging from her buxom hips that had carried six children. Pastel flowers as big as your fist plastered the gown, a staple of the nineties. I loved those flowery gowns and used to play dress up in them when she wasn’t home.
I don’t remember much else from that morning. I don’t know if they were chocolate chip pancakes or if we had eggs with them. I don’t remember because after mom told me the news, my heart sank into a cloud of disappointment and fear.
Fear of the uncertain.
Mom told me we weren’t going to our school anymore. She said we’d be leaving the church associated with our school too. What would happen to my friends? Would I still see them? Where would we go to church now? What about school? I wasn’t going to school that day?
Fear of the uncertain rang in my heart.
I’ve gone to church for as long as I can remember. I’ve been told about Jesus dying on the cross and God’s love since I could turn the pages of a toddler board book.
While my parents did the best they could to make sure we knew about God’s saving grace, their inevitable flaws and failures as a couple and as parents weighed heavy in our family dynamics. It wasn’t unusual for me to peek under my bedroom door, watching them fight in the living room. I’d often sneak into my sister’s bed in the night to sleep with her if the fighting became intense.
When Mom and Dad’s problems rose to the surface and leaked to the public eye, someone somewhere voiced concerned about our involvement in the church and the school.
To be honest, I was young enough I didn’t know the specifics. You’d have to ask my dad and older siblings about that. I do know the girls who had been my best friends were no longer my best friends. I knew we no longer went to the same church I essentially grew up in. Whenever I saw some of our old family friends, the ones we use to sit with in the third row at church, walking the aisles at the grocery store, I was overcome with shame.
Those old “friends” silently screamed legalism and appearances and conditional love to my childish ears. I’m sure those were the whispers shrouded in the words of a living and breathing Pharisee giving me a passing glance in our local grocery store.
Not long after our separation from church, my parents divorced. Dad wasn’t really in the picture anymore, so it was up to Mom to find our family a new school and a new church. I fumbled through middle school going to church with my new best friend and a new-found crush in youth group. Like many a teenager, the cute boy in youth group became responsible for my faith. I’m not sure how vigilant I would have been about attending church if it wasn’t for the power of a cute face.
From childhood through my teenager years, I went to church because of someone else. My faith was built on the stories and experiences of those around me. Youth group became a ritual filled with applying lip gloss and wearing cute clothes to impress the boy across the aisle, and to hang out with my friend. Even still, God was planting seeds in what seemed like the unyielding ground of a confused teenage girl.
After my parents divorced, I remember nights when tears soaked my sheets, wishing my parents were still married, but also being tormented by the pain their marriage caused.
One night, when Mom and I were living with my aunt, I remember feeling especially overwhelmed with rejection because of my divorced parents. Staring up at the dark ceiling with tears in my eyes, fear squeezed my heart and uncertainty screamed my name. I felt like I was sitting in that kitchen all over again, listening as Mom told me life was about to change. Except this time, instead of begging Mom with questions, my worries cried out into an empty bedroom.
And in that moment, I heard a voice there with me. I heard God’s voice for what seemed like the first time. His voice rose above the cries of my heart and said, “Gloryanna, I am the father of the fatherless.”
I turned on my light, reached for my Bible, and scoured the concordance, looking for anything that would confirm whose voice I heard.
I was looking for life. For freedom from fear. I found faith.